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Covid-19 Omicron: Many NSW and Victorian parents to ignore government health advice for schools


Parents don’t want to have to test kids with Rapid Antigen Tests twice a week once schools start. Photo / 123RF

A third of Victorian and NSW parents plan on ignoring public health advice when they send their children back to school next week.

Schools from the two largest states are set to resume for the new year — with most Victorian students starting next Monday and NSW on Tuesday.

But rampant Omicron cases means a number of measures have been implemented to help reduce the spread of infection in the classroom, including mask mandates for all teachers and most students, carrying out lessons in shaded outdoor areas and upgrading ventilation systems for better air flow.

The main one that has caused controversy is the requirement that children must regularly use a rapid antigen test (RAT) and return a negative result before they’re allowed to set foot through the school gates.

New statistics reveal that a whopping 30 per cent of Victorian and NSW parents don’t plan on following government back to school Covid testing guidelines.

The survey, carried out by insights consultancy firm Nature based on a sample of 1000 mums and dads, found some alarming results about what those parents intended to do with their RATS instead of testing their kids.

Four million RATS were delivered to Victorian schools on Friday and a further two million will have arrived by the time school time begins.

Likewise, six million rapid antigen tests have been delivered to around 3000 NSW schools.

Victoria requires parents to test their kids every two days while in NSW they must use the RATS twice a week.

Both are voluntary and there’s no oversight.

As a result, 15 per cent of parents will only test their children if they show symptoms of Covid-19.

A further 13 per cent plan to use their RATS once a week or less.

And 2 per cent won’t test their kids no matter what.

The research also revealed that 39 per cent of parents said they would prefer to save any RATS provided by the government for another occasion, rather than testing on their kids twice a week.

Only 58 per cent of parents think that the return to school plan is a good policy.

Nature’s Managing Partner, Chris Crook, caution: “If a third of people are not going to follow the policy correctly, it raises the question of whether it’s worth doing it at all.

“By not having tests done at schools or having parents show proof of testing, it opens the door to all manner of stockpiling and selling of a commodity which right now is pretty hot.”

Retailers have been criticizing over the past month for hoarding RATS and marking up the prices to make a tidy profit at the expense of customers.

Australia’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC, has slammed “outrageous” rapid antigen test rip offs with retailers charging up to $70 for a single test despite the wholesale cost of a RAT ranging from $3.95 to $11.45 per test.

In one case, a consumer who bought the tests online tried to flog them on social media for $500 for two tests.

The ACCC has received over 1800 reports from consumers about rapid antigen tests since Christmas and said it was now averaging close to 150 reports a day.



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